Brawl in Cell Block 99
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Brawl in Cell Block 99

Brawl in Cell Block 99
Brawl in Cell Block 99 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byS. Craig Zahler
Produced by
Written byS. Craig Zahler
Music by
  • Jeff Herriott
  • S. Craig Zahler
CinematographyBenji Bakshi
Edited byGreg D'Auria
Distributed byRLJE Films
Release date
  • September 2, 2017 (2017-09-02) (Venice)
  • October 6, 2017 (2017-10-06) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$7,144[2]

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a 2017 American neo-noir[3][4]prison thriller film written, directed and scored by S. Craig Zahler. It stars Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Marc Blucas, and Tom Guiry. It was screened out of competition at the 74th Venice International Film Festival.[5] The film was released in theaters on October 6, 2017, and on digital HD and video on demand on October 13, 2017, by RLJE Films.


Former boxer and drug mule Bradley Thomas is laid off from his job at an auto-repair shop. As he arrives home, he sees his wife, Lauren, sitting in her car talking to someone on her cellphone. Bradley approaches her and sees a lovebite on her neck. Lauren confesses that she has been seeing somebody else. Bradley orders her inside the house before he violently dismantles her car with his bare hands. When calm, he enters the house to discuss with Lauren their failing relationship. Bradley decides to forgive Lauren and returns to work as a drug mule.

Eighteen months later, Bradley and a now pregnant Lauren have relocated to a larger, more expensive home. Bradley's boss, Gil, introduces him to Eleazar, a new business associate, and gives him a new task. Bradley is to sail off the coast with two of Eleazar's men to pick up a package of crystal meth. Bradley does not trust the larger of the two men, Roman, but accepts the job when Gil offers him three months paternity leave. As they arrive at the pier, Bradley senses they are walking into a police trap and dumps his bag into the water. Bradley instructs the other two men to do the same, but they ignore his order and confront the police in a firefight, wounding three officers. Bradley intervenes by knocking out Roman in order to assist the police. The third drug trafficker dies in the shootout. Bradley is taken into custody and sentenced to seven years in a medium-security prison.

During the night, Lauren is kidnapped by men under orders of Eleazar. On the second day of his incarceration, Bradley is visited by the Placid Man, who informs Bradley that he works for Eleazar. He tells Bradley that, unless Bradley assassinates an inmate named Christopher Bridge, located in Redleaf Correctional Facility, a separate maximum-security prison, the limbs of his unborn child will be surgically removed by a abortionist and sent to him. Bradley reluctantly accepts.

Bradley picks a fight with multiple guards, until he is overpowered and transferred to Redleaf. There, he meets unforgiving Warden Tuggs. Bradley is put into a horrible cell, where the toilet is clogged with feces. Eventually, he is able to go outside for yard time. When a fellow inmate informs him that Christopher Bridge is not located in this section of the prison but in another section known as cell block 99, Bradley fights some other inmates and consequently is thrown into cell block 99.

Warden Tuggs explains that cell block 99 is where he devises special punishments for society's most despised criminals. Bradley is forced to wear a belt that gives him electric shocks at a push of a button, as a punishment for the fight. His cell in block 99 is lined with broken glass and only contains a crude squat toilet hole. Bradley speaks to a man in an adjacent cell, who informs him that Christopher Bridge does not exist at all. During the night, a young guard named Wilson escorts Bradley to another, larger cell in block 99, where Eleazar, Roman, and two other gangsters are located. The gang torture Bradley with the electric belt, and taunt him by threatening to call the abortionist. He is shocked so badly that he needs to be dragged back to the cell unconscious.

Bradley devises a plan and tears the lining out of his shoes: he places the rubber between his body and the belt to prevent the shocks. This enables him to ambush Wilson and another guard; resulting in him killing Wilson. Bradley locks the second guard inside a cell. Bradley confronts Eleazar, and brutally kills all three henchmen in hand-to-hand combat. During the brawl, Eleazar calls the Placid Man and instructs him to activate the abortionist. Bradley first tortures Eleazar by breaking his leg, then calls the Placid Man to negotiate for Lauren's freedom. It is agreed that the Placid Man will deliver Lauren to Gil's house. Bradley drags Eleazar into his own cell, across the broken glass, to await confirmation of Lauren's freedom. Warden Tuggs and his men arrive at block 99, but Bradley threatens to kill his two hostages. Bradley states he is waiting for a phone call, and promises that he will surrender peacefully, exactly one minute after the call ends.

The Placid Man and the abortionist follow Eleazar's instructions and drive Lauren unharmed to Gil's house. As they drive away, Gil retrieves a hidden assault rifle and kills the Placid Man. Lauren then takes the rifle and shoots the abortionist. Gil phones Bradley to inform him that his family is finally safe. Bradley speaks to Lauren for the last time, and shares a few words with their unborn child.

Bradley destroys the cell phone, then reminds Warden Tuggs that he still has 60 seconds of freedom remaining. Bradley shoves Eleazar's face into the squat hole and stomps several times on his neck, decapitating Eleazar and leaving the head at the bottom of the toilet. Warden Tuggs and his men finally enter the cell. Bradley gives one last look at Tuggs, who then shoots Bradley twice, once in the chest and once in the head. The screen cuts to black on the third gunshot and Bradley's body hitting the floor is heard.



Principal photography began on August 15, 2016, in New York City.[6] On August 17, 2016, Jennifer Carpenter joined the cast of the film.[7] Principal photography wrapped on October 17, 2016.[6]


The film premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival on September 2, 2017.[1] The film was released in theaters on October 6, 2017, and on digital HD and video on demand on October 13, 2017, by RLJE Films.[8]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91% based on 86 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Brawl in Cell Block 99 rides a committed Vince Vaughn performance into the brutally violent--and undeniably entertaining--depths of prison-set grindhouse genre fare."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and praised Vaughn's performance, saying: "In the middle of all the wince-inducing, limb-bending, bone-crunching, face-exploding bloodshed, Vaughn turns in a legitimately great performance that ranks among the finest work he's ever done."[11]


The film made year-end best of lists for Newsweek,[12]Los Angeles Times,[13]Collider,[14],[15]The A.V. Club,[16] and others. The picture was a New York Times Critics Pick[17] and was screened at the Museum of Modern Art,[18] where it was added to the permanent collection.[18]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Thriller Film Brawl in Cell Block 99 Nominated [19]
Best Actor Vince Vaughn Nominated


  1. ^ a b Rooney, David (September 2, 2017). "'Brawl in Cell Block 99' Review | Venice 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)". The Numbers. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ Nobile Jr., Phil (September 24, 2017). "'Fantastic Fest Review: BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 Is A Misanthropic Masterpiece". Birth.Movies.Death. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)". FilmAffinity. April 24, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ Anderson, Ariston (July 27, 2017). "Venice Competition Includes Films From George Clooney, Guillermo del Toro, Darren Aronofsky". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Brawl In Cell Block 99". Backstage. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ Busch, Anita (August 17, 2016). "Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter Cast Opposite Vince Vaughn In 'Brawl In Cell Block 99'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ Collis, Clark (August 22, 2017). "Brawl in Cell Block 99 stars a Vince Vaughn 'you've never seen before'". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ "Brawl in Cell Block 99 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ Roeper, Richard (October 12, 2017). "Vince Vaughn a convincing prison brute in 'Brawl in Cell Block 99'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Ciampaglia, Dante A.; Gaudette, Emily; Menta, Anna; Schilling, Mary Kaye; Schonfeld, Zach (December 27, 2017). "The 18 most unforgettable films of 2017, from 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' to 'The Shape of Water'". Newsweek. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ Chang, Justin (December 15, 2017). "'Call Me by Your Name', 'The Florida Project' lead Justin Chang's 12 best films of 2017". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ Formo, Brian (December 24, 2017). "Brian's Top 10 Films of 2017". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ JimmyO (December 29, 2017). "The 10 Best Films of 2017". JoBlo Media. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Dowd, A.A.; Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy; D'Angelo, Mike; Hassenger, Jesse; Murray, Noel; Rife, Katie (December 20, 2017). "The best of film 2017: The ballots". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (October 5, 2017). "Review: 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' Features a Revelatory Vince Vaughn". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Brawl in Cell Block 99. 2017. Directed by S. Craig Zahler". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther', 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved 2018.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes